My name is Mark Wayman, and I’m an Executive Recruiter focused on gaming and high tech. Or as some people call me: a Headhunter. Over the last 15 years I have placed 800+ executives. Compensation starts at $100,000, average placement is $200,000+, and last year I placed several executives north of $1,000,000. Most of my work is at the high end, however these tips are a good review for executives at all levels.

Disclaimer: I only represent executives I know personally, or that are referred to me by friends and clients. And there is good reason for that. At senior levels, my clients expect me to vouch personally for the candidates. Additionally, the executives in my network have supported my business and charity work for the last 15 years, and if nothing else, I’m the most loyal person you will ever meet.

Today’s topic is four attributes that will keep executives from moving up the career ladder.  So here comes $20,000 of career advice…pro bono.

Being a Taker…and Not a Giver – Let’s face it, “takers” are an American epidemic. You know the type. Only call you when they are asking for something. The conversation goes something like this, “Yada yada yada…can you get me a job/hotel room/tickets.” Your pick on the “ask”, but it’s ALWAYS an ask. And if you lose your big management job, you get to find out how many friends you really have. One CEO told me, “I thought I had 200 good friends. Turns out I had zero. None would return my call when I needed help.” As a Recruiter, I get executives that only call me every five years when they need a job. That is a transaction, not a relationship, and I’m all about relationships. So why not be the anomaly: a GIVER. These are the executives that ask my favorite question, “How can I help you?” Givers are constantly thinking of others, and understand that if you take the elevator to the top you have an obligation to send it back down for everyone else. Companies like givers; hiring managers like givers. Plus, it’s the right thing to do.

Acting Like a Narcissistic Megalomaniac – Another American epidemic: arrogance. After integrity, arrogance is the second most common attribute that will get you dropped from the interview process. Here is a secret – you are NOT entitled to anything. I don’t care what the government tells you. Working is a privilege, and most people don’t understand that until they are unemployed. There are plenty of executives that think they are the cat’s meow…until they are not. It is a short walk from Park Place to the park bench. Today you are family; tomorrow you are gone, a traitor and we are enforcing your non-compete. Humble and genuine is far more attractive.

Making Bad Personal Choices – “A” players don’t make bad personal choices. And more importantly, they take personal responsibility for their choices. Mediocre executives blame their parents, spouse, kids, boss, company and the dog’s Veterinarian for their troubles. It’s the blame game. It’s never their fault. Do you know how many of the 2,000 executives I interviewed told me there were fired? ZERO. They all resigned! And many seriously believe there is an “X Files” type conspiracy to “keep them down.” Make GOOD choices, and if you have an issue, own it and move on.

Bad Attitude: Bitter, Angry and Unhappy – Companies like smiley, happy people. It’s that simple. I’ll never forget the CIO that launched into his “miserable divorce” story during and interview.  Interview…OVER! Then there was the COO that spent 30 minutes bad mouthing his last employer because they laid him off after 20 years. Note to self…delete that resume. No one likes a Debbie Downer. No one likes a Drama Queen. Be happy! You are alive…you have choices.

And I’ll leave you with some of the best business advice EVER. Relationships trump talent seven days a week. Like your Mom said, “Play nice.”